Category Archives: Energy

Diesel is cool; too cool to be hot

A story called Diesel misconceptions is deceptively extolling the virtues of diesel. Negative marketing?

Consider the following analysis, for example:

Diesel engines power half the passenger vehicles sold in Europe but almost none here. Stricter U.S. clean air regulations have meant that – until recently – they were simply too dirty to be sold in the most populous U.S. states, including California, New York and New Jersey. This virtual shut-out means that American drivers have little experience with modern diesel engines.

First of all, nearly all heavy machinery and trucks on the road today are diesel. Experience with modern diesel engines? I think they could break down the numbers a bit more transparently. Many people in America have experience with diesel engines, but what they don’t have is any sexy marketing or CNN articles telling them diesel is one of the top ten choices they should be making.

Second, the reason they have been “dirty” is because unlike the gasoline counterparts that were heavily regulated and forced to clean up their act in the 1980s, diesel technology was ignored. This makes the “until recently” comment ironic. There was no regulation until recently that classified diesel emissions as too dirty for the most populous states. And, back to my first point, it should be obvious why the populous states led this controversial campaign.

This article does what it can to pretend to explain the current status and facts of diesel, but I think there is a more obvious reason that Americans do not think about diesel as their next technology of choice. Consider the following two articles on the same CNN site:

Six cars to survive the fuel crisis: These days, you no longer have to choose between saving gas money and getting the ultimate in car safety. more

The 8 most fuel-efficient cars These cars will squeeze the most miles out of your fuel dollar. more

Neither story includes a single diesel vehicle.


Why is that? The diesel cars qualify easily. And I am not even talking about the next generation of technology about to reach the US. I’m talking about diesel engines from 2005.

Page one of the second story has a Honda that gets “28 miles per gallon-equivalent of compressed natural gas”. Who would want that instead of a diesel that easily gets more than 30mpg. Strange, eh?

And then there is the Chevy Tahoe example in the first story: “What’s a full-sized SUV doing here? For starters, it’s a full-sized SUV that gets the same city fuel economy as a four-cylinder Toyota Camry.”

Yeah, 21mpg is a pig no matter how you slice it and it does not belong in the line-up. What’s the excuse?

But there are things the Tahoe can do that a mid-sized sedan just can’t. Besides being just plain bigger and roomier than a car, the Tahoe retains the full towing capacity of the non-hybrid version.

Let’s see the numbers, shall we? If mpg is an issue, combined with towing power, than diesel options make all the more sense to include.

Apparently CNN marketing/editors hate diesel. Strange.

The good news is that, if the Internet is any guide, the more dynamic market option (diesel) may prevail over the centrally planned ones (hybrid/battery, hydrogen, natural gas). While people could respond today to a survey that hydrogen is cool, because big sexy concepts are easy to see (like describing mountains instead of grass), the state of things could always change overnight when the time and money savings possible from a small diesel investment become clear due to the numbers.

News Today

Interesting news today for security professionals:

  1. Suicide bomber motivations point to social and economic factors more than religious or militarism
  2. Dead FARC leader’s laptop data cited in US-backed Columbian military operation in Ecuador. Evidence of “dirty bomb” alleged. Laptop data also the basis of alleged FARC ties to Venezuela
  3. Seattle-area home fires labeled as domestic terrorism. ELF group suspected due to giant white sheets left behind with the red letters “ELF” painted on them

Subaru Announces Diesel Engine

Amazing. I was excited to hear about the Audi TDI coming to the US, but now I see Subaru is planning a European diesel. I love the boxer engine in the Subaru, as well as their all wheel drive. I suspect this new diesel will have incredible efficiency:

Subaru will use next month’s Geneva motor show to debut its new diesel boxer engine in the Legacy and Outback models. The engine marks the first diesel application for a horizontally opposed engine.

The engine’s rigidity enabled Subaru to shorten it by more than two inches compared with the gasoline version. The diesel 2.0-liter turbocharged H4 produces 147 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Ok, the really amazing thing here is that Subaru’s top-of-the-line Impreza gasoline engine in 2008 produces a Japanese record-setting 304 hp at 6,400 rpm and 311 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. So their new basic diesel model for daily drivers will produce nearly the same torque as the hottest rally-car on the market (surely at lower rpm), while probably delivering twice the mpg.

Hello, Subaru. Import please.

Cooling With Heat

The DW has a nice article about German scientists who are finding ways to use heat to cool things:

The principle of solar cooling, the so-called ammoniac-water absorption technique, has been known since 1810.

In Gladbeck, this idea has been extrapolated to the idea of using warmth from other processes such as the heat of baking ovens.

I vaguely remember a doctor once telling me that air-conditioning is the greatest invention of all time because it allows for so many health-related benefits. I suppose non-energy based cooling would be an even better invention, although it appears a couple hundred years have already passed since first discovery.